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Fun With The Austin P.D.

Adventures with the finest of the Austin Police Department: I was driving home from open mic with 3-4 beers in my system (consumed over 6 hours — I was fine), when a cop pulled up behind me. I did the usual thing for someone in my situation: started following the speed limit exactly, signaled every lane change, etc, and I breathed a sigh of relief as the cop turned off on some random side street. That’s when I looked up and saw the cat.

Now, technically, I did hit the cat. I know this because of the loud ‘bonk’ sound that is only comical in retrospect because the cat ran away, apparently perfectly fine. In fact, it seemed rather annoyed (I suppose cats aren’t smart enough to realize the concept of luck). I was still shaking from my near-catricide when the cop suddenly reappeared behind me and turned on the lights. Apparently, I had preceded the aforementioned ‘bonk’ noise with the very loud squeaking of tires which comes from the avoidance of turning a feline into a mash of bone, fur and pulp.

Within seconds, two other cop cars were there, and I was being given a DWI test. The cop that pulled me over was asking me why I braked so suddenly. I explained. I got a speech about how it is better to ‘keep going’ rather than to ‘risk a wreck’ by avoiding an animal. Apparently, the fact that I didn’t swerve, the road was empty, and that short of the feline losing one of it’s 9 liives, everyone involved was fine, didn’t seem to matter. Perhaps I’m just an animal lover, but it seems to me that cars are replaceable and cats aren’t. They asked me how much I had to drink. My words are tumbling out of my mouth, partially from the near-accident, partially from the absurdity of being pulled over because I refused to kill it. Where was I coming from? Oh, from the hippy-clientele coffee bar? Do I have any illegal drugs on my person?

Anyway, while one officer is running my license, I’m invited out of the car to play a knee-slapping game of ‘follow the finger’. Look left, look right, look up. Stand on one foot. Funny, when this is happening, you can detect your body swaying one-tenth of a centimeter.

Meanwhile, the more rednecky cop is asking me about my car. “Looks brand new.” Yep. “Is that a six cylinder?” Sure think so. “I used to have a four cylinder, years and years ago. These are a lot better looking. What sort of horsepower do you got in that?” When I realized I didn’t know the answer, I started to get mildly paranoid that maybe I wasn’t car-macho-geek enough to pass this impromptu test. I started casting for anything that might make me look like I bought my car because it was no money down, no payments for a startup-inflicted year.

“It’s got 200, maybe 210 horsepower,” I said. “It’s a little slow off the line, but once it gets going, you’re not keeping up.” I bit my tongue before giving the only other piece of performance information I had: the Eclipse can go 100+ MPH and still be as quiet as a purring kitten. Somehow, I thought he might be less appreciative of that piece of info.

I guess I passed the macho car test, as I was handed back my license after they put me into the computer. Apparently, even though I didn’t get a ticket, they needed to put me in there in order to track the possibility of racial profiling. I take this to mean that the APD now has license to pull over an additional black or hispanic man for no apparent reason this week.

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